Each year, the American Horse Council presents the Van Ness Award to a person who has shown leadership and service to the horse community in his or her state. It is awarded in memory of Mrs. Marjorie Van Ness, one of the founders of the New Jersey Horse Council and the AHC’s Coalition of State Horse Councils. This year’s award was presented to Paul Briney of Chatham, Illinois, for his great service to the horse community in his state.
“As a founding member of the Horseman’s Council of Illinois, Mr. Briney has made his state council effective and critical to the industry’s health at the state and national level,” said AHC President Jay Hickey in presenting the award at the recent AHC annual meeting. “For over 50 years, he has been the embodiment of education and outreach. In fact, he was such a fixture in the Illinois state capitol that many of the legislators knew him as ‘the horse man.’ His 27 years of service to the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois has been exemplified with a smile and a kind word. He has been an inspiration to many, and a tireless advocate for the horse industry, for education, and for promoting all that is good about the horse.”
During his time in the industry, he has had tremendous influence on the development of state policies as they apply to horses. He was instrumental in passing the Illinois Equine Infectious Anemia regulation that resulted in near eradication of the disease in Illinois. He helped to pass the Illinois Equine Activity Liability Act, one of the first such laws, leading other states to follow their lead. He was also a driving force behind the renovation of the Illinois State Fair Grounds, ensuring that horses and horse facilities were an integral part of the plans and still a fixture at the fair.
Mr. Briney has been a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau horse committee, Illinois Livestock Advisory Board, and was the Founder and Past-Chair of the Illinois Equine Foundation. He is a lifetime member of both the American Saddlebred Horse Museum and the Illinois American Saddlebred Pleasure Horse Association, and was instrumental in initiating Saddlebred judges clinics. In 2013, his family received the Gillenwater Family award for Lifetime Service to the Saddlebred horse breed and association.
“For the last 40 years I have admired the great people and friends that have received this award, and I am honored to have been chosen as this year’s recipient,” said Briney.